Money that would have been spent on a cancelled fireworks display will instead go towards feeding hungry children over half term.

Harlow Council is donating £10,000 to Harlow Foodbank to help feed families including children who are entitled to free school meals.

The council will donate the money to the foodbank using funds saved by not having a public firework display this year, cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the work of Harlow Foodbank and that of local businesses and organisations no children should go hungry this half term “, explained Cllr Chris Vince, portfolio holder for community wellbeing.

“We are in the middle of a global pandemic, which is putting more and more pressures on local families, so we must step up, work together and support those in need.”

“When we announced that we were not holding a firework display this year there were calls from residents to use the money to support a good cause instead. I’m glad we have found that good cause and that parents who will struggle to put food on the table for their children will be able to do so this week.”

The funding will pay for Harlow Foodbank to prepare and deliver food boxes to families and depending on demand, if any funding is left over it will be carried over to help support families over the Christmas period.

Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon, was one of five Tory MPs to vote for extending free school meals over the holidays.

The Labour motion, which was inspired by England and Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, was defeated by 261 votes to 322.

In an article in The Spectator, Mr Halfon outlined his case for scheme, explaining it could be funded by repurposing revenue from the Government’s 2018 tax on sugary drinks.

He said: “Dealing with child hunger should not be a left-wing issue. Far from it. This is about increasing academic attainment in schools, ensuring that every child has the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity, and providing real value for money to the taxpayer.”

Andy Thornton, chief executive officer of Harlow foodbank said: “We recognise that this has been a very difficult year, and we have given out almost twice as much food this year as last year. We will do all we can to distribute the donation from the council across all agencies supporting families entitled to free school meals. We ask those who know about anyone in need to get in touch with us we will point them in the right direction.”

Cllr Frances Mason, portfolio holder for governance, equality and diversity added: “It is good news to hear Harlow Council will be supporting Harlow Foodbank this half term. I will work with our diverse communities in Harlow to ensure no child goes without food this half term.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.